Removal of Sunderland Cabinet member for children's services not before time

Removal of Pat Smith from children’s services role “not before time” – Sunderland Lib Dems


Wearside’s Liberal Democrats have welcomed the publication of a document which indicates that Sunderland Council Leader Paul Watson is to replace Councillor Pat Smith as the portfolio holder for children’s services.


Councillor Smith faced calls to resign from her role in charge of Sunderland Council’s Children’s Services Department in July 2015 following an Ofsted report which found that children had been put at risk by the Council’s systematic poor practice.


Last December, when the children’s services directorate was taken over by a voluntary trust put in place by the Government, Councillor Smith said that she would resign if the Leader of the Council and Labour group wanted her to.


The agenda for Sunderland Council’s Annual Meeting on 18th May lists the Council Leader’s proposed appointments to the Cabinet for the coming year.


These appointments include Louise Farthing, Labour Councillor for Washington South, as the proposed new Cabinet Member for Children’s Services.


The Leader of Council, Deputy Leader of the Council and the 5 other cabinet positions are all due to stay in the same hands.


All 75 city councillors will be asked to ‘note’ the Leader’s choices at the meeting.


Commenting, Niall Hodson, Liberal Democrat councillor for Millfield & Thornholme, said:


“It seems that ruling councillors have finally realised that new political leadership is required in the Children’s Services department, alongside the new staff and outside experts that have been brought into improve things. And not before time.


“Many parents were rightly horrified that leadership in this vital portfolio was not reassigned following the damning report into failures of management at all levels, and it is baffling that this decision is only being taken now. I hope that the new leadership – along with the measures being put in place by the government, staff and the voluntary trust – will bring about the improvements that are desperately needed so that young people and families in Sunderland can get the help and support they need.”

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